In a Jazz Times review, the magazine asked: “Could Melody Gardot end up as big as Norah Jones?” The magazine was politely pointing out how similar both singers are with the exception that Jones was first. Both share the same DJ friend and ally at WXPN, Philadelphia who pushed their music vigorously.
Signed to Universal’s Verve, after her debut Worrisome Heart had positive reaction, she was assigned some “big friends” for the followup, like producer Larry Klein, musical director Kenneth Pendergrast and with arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza. To top it off, audiophile favourites Al Schmitt and Bernie Grundman mixed and mastered My One And Only Thrill.
So here she is in Paris, performing live for FIP Radio, eight of the songs from her new album. You’ll quickly notice how she does sound very much like Norah Jones, nevermind what critics say that she’s like Peggy Lee or Nina Simone, or early Rickie Lee Jones. Not. The same after-hours lounge feel of Come Away With Me is present here and played expertly by her band of Patrick Hughes, Bryan Rogers, Ken Pendergast and Charlie Patierno.
This live outing, however, confirms she wasn’t conceived in the studio. Her voice has that air of intimacy, words linger on the tip of her tongue as she carasses them into emotion. These songs are mostly all written by her. She has the talent in songwriting and the voice to own them. Even the covers “belong” to her. Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine is no longer a summery pop song.
And what of her version of Smile? Her spoken word, a cappella rendition and slowly-paced reading makes the song something even Michael Jackson would have been happy with. A lullaby of love and hope to dream about.
Lineup (thanks to Kaare K Johnsen):
Melody Gardot - vocals, piano, guitar
Lewis Wright - vibraphone
Patrick Hughes - trumpet
Bryan Rogers - sax
Ken Pendergast - bass
Charles “Chuck” Staab III - drums
With thanks to kingfrippson for sharing this radio broadcast and fastone for the as-always excellent artwork. GivenToFly0 identified all the songs.